Express executives avoid the term “flagship,” though if there ever was a store that fit the bill, it’s the new Express in Times Square.
It’s the largest and splashiest in the chain, with a towering LED screen on the exterior, a glass-enclosed chandeliered room for dresses, mobile point of sale, marbled checkout counters and tall, tubular glass vitrines to display the short flared tulle skirts, flirty floral dresses and NYC graphic T-shirts, often vigorously promoted with deals.
“It’s Express on steroids,” said Michael Weiss, the chairman and chief executive officer of the 632-unit, $2 billion-plus chain. “This is an elevated, finer looking store where the homes for each category are much more defined. Our billboard, with 9,000 square feet of LED, is the biggest and highest-definition billboard in the whole of Times Square. You know nobody whispers in Times Square.”
With the Express expansion, “We are going after not so much flagship locations — there are so few we would call flagships. We are going after ‘hub’ locations, and currently looking at 25 to 30 where we want to be super strong and super competitive, where the mall [or the neighborhood] demands it and has become a hub for wonderful retailers all giving it their best shot.”
The Times Square store, located in the landmark, marble-framed I. Miller Building distinguished by statues of actresses Ethel Barrymore, Marilyn Miller, Mary Pickford and Rosa Ponselle, will have a grand opening in late March. The “soft” opening was last Thursday. The store has three levels and 22,500 square feet of selling space, compared with the vast majority of Express units, which are one-level and 8,000 square feet. Other Express ‘hub’ stores have opened in Miami’s Dadeland mall, the Fashion Show mall in Las Vegas and on Union Square in San Francisco, but Times Square is the latest incarnation of a prototype introduced at the King of Prussia mall outside Philadelphia more than two years ago. Stores on Fifth Avenue and 18th Street and Madison Avenue at 51st Street also exhibit elements of the format.
“I don’t think it’s about having flagship locations, it’s about having a dominant presence in key locations to help elevate and build the brand,” said David Kornberg, president of Express. “The Times Square store is important, considering the large international tourist traffic it will get and the ‘Express’ desire to become more global.” Currently, Express has just 41 stores outside the U.S., in Canada, the Middle East, South America, Central America and Mexico. Express is also thinking more omni, rather than brick and mortar, as Weiss noted. “We came late to the game in e-commerce, five or six years ago, but we are catching up.”
According to Kornberg, Times Square is planned to be “the number-one store in the chain” in terms of volume, but he would not provide the sales projection. Kornberg underscored how effective the store is at demarcating the major categories or zones: party/going-out clothes, wear-to-work, jeans and casual. In the last few years, shoes, fragrances, loungewear and watches have been added to the assortment, and active and yoga wear is being tested in about 30 locations. However, the party component, Kornberg said, “is really the essence of the brand.”
The annual Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic in Pacific Palisades this weekend drew Kate Hudson, Tracee Ellis Ross, Laura Dern and more. See pictures of the star-studded event on WWD.com. (📷: @chelsealaurenla) #wwdeye
In his new book “Hollywood Royale,” Andy Warhol’s Protégé Matthew Rolston celebrates the Eighties revival of Hollywood glamour. Featuring more than 100 portraits taken by Rolston from 1977 to 1993, the book contains photos of icons like Michael Jackson, Cyndi Lauper, and @drewbarrymore, pictured here in 1991. “Hollywood Royale,” out today, will be accompanied by an exhibition opening at Los Angeles’ Fahey/Klein Gallery on March 1. #wwdeye
"Nowadays when life is not so happy with everything going on in the world, I think people come to me for a little bit of whimsy and color and fun." - Designer Rebecca De Ravenel on her cult-favorite jewelry line. (📸 : @vsteves) #wwd40
“Everyone is talking about how the retail industry is struggling, but I think it’s an incredible time because brands who are doing something different and innovative are setting themselves up for the future,” said @adamgoldston, who founded the luxury athletic brand @apl with his brother @ryangoldsten. The Goldston’s are part of WWD’s 40 under 40: a group of industry notables. See the rest of the list on WWD.com. (📷: @vsteves) #wwd40
@eyeswoon blogger Athena Calderone debuted her first-ever cookbook, “Cook Beautiful,” which is heavily centered on the presentation and visual expression of food. Pictured here are her miso glazed carrots from the book. Get the recipe on WWD.com. (📷: @johnny_miller_) #wwdeye
“It’s passion that helps get anybody to a certain point and it’s what’s propelled me,” said Kith founder @ronniefieg, one of WWD’s 40 under 40: a group of industry notables who are changing the face of retail, fashion and beauty. Fieg, who opened a Manhattan flagship on October 7, began his career at age 13 as a stock boy and salesman for footwear chain David Z. “I think staying true to [my] beliefs, hard work and passion have gotten me to where [Kith] is today.” See the rest of the 40 at WWD.com. (📷: @vsteves) #wwd40
25-year-old @samweaving is about to break out this fall, starring in Netflix’s horror film “The Babysitter,” fittingly out today on Friday the 13th. That’s not the only place you’ll be seeing her, though — Weaving’s got a role Showtime’s “SMILF” and another alongside Frances McDormand and Woody Harrelson in “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.” Though she’s got a full plate at the moment, there’s one role she’s got her eye on: Marilyn Monroe. “I’m a little too young at the moment, but it’s on my bucket list,” the actress told WWD (📷: @dandoperalski) #wwdeye
BFF's Poppy Jamie and Suki Waterhouse celebrated the launch of their bag line Pop x Suki at Nordstrom last night. "The line is really about our friendship, and how we are so different but complement each other," said Waterhouse. 👯 (📷: Katie Jones) #wwdeye
After designing the new @louisvuitton and @bulgariofficial flagships and a @chanelofficial boutique opening in Japan, @petermarinoarchitect has another project on his plate: The Lobster Club. Located in the Seagram Building, it’s the famed architect’s first restaurant project in New York, serving up modern Japanese brasserie-style cuisine. Bronze hues, bespoke material detailing, blush and chartreuse tones and a heavy emphasis on Picasso can be seen throughout. Mark your calendars for Nov. 1 for the much-anticipated opening. (📷: @clint_spaulding) #wwdeye